By Alexey Sukachev & Per Ake Persson
O2 World Arena, Berlin, Germany - "King" Arthur Abraham (35-3, 27KOs) won a twelve round unanimous decision over Robert Stieglitz (42-3, 23KOs) to capture the WBO super middleweight championship in a very close fight. Abraham becomes a two-division champion. The scores were 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113. Stieglitz, 31, was making the seventh defense of the title, which he captured almost exactly three years ago against current WBA champion ("regular") Karoly Balzsay.
Stieglitz, a native of Russia, defended his regalia against some solid fighters in Enrique Ornelas, Eduard Gutknecht or Khoren Gevor but none of those can be compared with Abraham, 32, in terms of longevity, championship experience and overall quality.
However, despite being an underdog for the first time in three years, the champion proved that his #2 rank by the Ring magazine (the native of Armenia was ranked #8 by the same source) was at least fairly earned, as he bumped King Arthur to the limit in this all-German encounter.
Stieglitz looked nervous at the start, and allowed Abraham to retain his composure and remained cool under the rapid fire by the champion. Arthur remained calm under attacks of his opponent in his shell-like guard and used his usually wide and wild right hands to keep the reinging titleholder in danger. The second stanza was fairly even: Stieglitz was the more active of the two but Abraham landed more solid punches than his counterpart. That wasn't the fact one round later when Stieglitz used stinging right hands to put Abraham out of his comfort zone.
Sensing the fight wasn't going his way, Abraham became gradually more aggressive in the fourth stanza. His punches were well seen but his power was relentless and well felt by the champion. Stieglitz tried to fight back but he looked too fragile to keep rumbling with the challenger. WBO #1 and WBA #2 ranked Armenian continued to build his dominance in rounds five and six, and the last of them saw previously competing Stieglitz pushing hard to survive the round without going down.
The tide was turned back by the reigning titlist in the seventh stanza, when he started to be more aggressive. The overall patern was the same for both boxers - a pair of jabs to create some space and to reach the dominance in a selected domain with a hard right hand or a pair of single hooks, mostly blocked by the tight guard of the opponent but with some charge still penetrating through the defense. Abraham appeared to be on the winning side of the eighth round and in the ninth his body of work was enough to get him a deserved point - and argument could have been made about Stieglitz taking that point away. Both fighters were battling their hearts out and did that so emotionally, that they were warned a couple of times by Hall-of-Fame referee Joe Cortez.
The champion showed somewhat tremendous heart in the closing rounds as he pushed hard to overcome an early deficit with his superior activity and honorable desire. He chose to fight through a rapidly closing left eye and a bleeding cut around his right eye - instead of alloweing himself to be overwhelmed under Abraham's power. The latter tried hard as well but pauses in his activity were getting bigger with each fought minute of championship rounds of this thrilling match-up.
While all three judges had a close points win for Abraham, BoxingScene had it a draw: 114-114 - in a very action-packed fight.